The Contrast

The Contrast
Lift Big, Sing Big, Look Great Doing It.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Ask The Opera Bro 1. New York City Muscle Building Budget

I've decided to add a part to this blog that I shall call "Ask The Opera Bro." I can usually answer questions quickly and accurately, but every once in a while a question will come up that needs a little more thorough explanation or can help a multitude of people. This one fits both criteria! He probably wouldn't mind me sharing his identify, but I'm going to keep him anonymous just so he isn't bothered. Here is his message:

"I had a question for you that I'm sure you could help me answer:

As for someone my size, I'm trying to get good muscle, great abs, and be able to look good for any audition I go to. My problem is that with my NYC budget and schedule, I can't always afford to eat all the things that workout programs (P90X in this case) require you to. Sometimes they ask you to make food that takes an hour to cook and costs probably around $10-15 a make EVERY DAY. So my question is, how can someone with my budget/time restraints maximize my results?

Thanks man! Keep up the good work!"

Let's call him Joe. I've known Joe for a while and he's always been a lean guy with not a great deal of muscle mass. He currently lives in New York where he's auditioning. The kinds of roles he plays and will continue to play are leading guys. Joe is already a good looking dude, but the competition is always fierce and even 5lbs of extra muscle on him will go a long way.

Let's look at someone else who's a similar body type and has made great strides into creating a fantastic physique.

Hugh Jackman.

When Hugh Jackman first entered into the hollywood scene as Wolverine, he did not have the ideal physique (His words) but after years of hard work that has been both progressed and stalled by other movie projects, Hugh Jackman has emerged a BEAST!

First X-Men Movie on the left, The Wolverine on the right.

Hugh Jackman talks about his big change in this interview and talks about some of his "Secrets."

4,000 calories of clean food and lots of training. What do you know, pretty much what Ol' Yeargain does...except for the clean food part (whoops!)

I think Joe can accomplish his goals in a few steps.

Warning: The Following is specifically made for Joe and his circumstances, if your circumstances mimic Joe's, feel free to try this out, but if yours do not, you will probably not do well with the following suggestions.

Alright, now for more specific suggestions. 

1.) Don't do p90x

I've already written before about how p90x isn't optimal for building muscles, and can actually continue to make you lean, which is important for Joe and his career, but it's something he shouldn't be worried about for now. I'll give you some good substitute workouts/a program you can do in its place, Joe at the bottom of the blog.

2.) Eat clean but eat big

Joe is a classic hard gainer. For him to gain weight he is going to have to increase his calories. Hugh Jackman has a similar body type and for him to gain weight in the form of muscle, he had to eat 4000 calories. 

For Joe to gain weight, I think he's going to have to eat around 2800 - 3000. Get a myfitnesspal app on your phone and start keeping track of your daily food intake, if you're easily hitting this number, increase it until you start seeing the weight on the scale progressively go up, you start seeing results in the mirror, or until you run out of money for food. The specifics of his calorie increase should come from pure carb and protein sources.

For you, Joe, I recommend you get at least 170 grams of protein a day. It's tough to do, and frankly your budget may not allow for it. At the very least try to get 100 grams. You can get it through the following sources:

Meat of any kind
Liquid egg whites
Cottage cheese
Greek Yogurt
Protein powder (anything that fits your budget and has over 20 grams of protein in it.)

Carbs will be a great way for you to be in a calorie surplus. If you find it's hard to eat a lot of food or you're not a very hungry person, I recommend you don't fill up on veggies. Get your veggies in for health, but your primary carbs should be fruits, potatoes and grains depending on how your stomach tolerates it. I personally can't eat a lot of grains without feeling exhausted, so I eat a lot of fruit to compensate. Carbs are much cheaper than proteins, and some carbs even contain lots of protein like quinoa, brown rice or some fiber 1 cereals.

I know you don't have much time to cook, and it's super lame to do so, but you may consider cooking all of your chicken/meat at one time. Cutting it up and putting it in Tupperware. It sucks, but it's cheap, it's efficient and it saves you time during the week and makes sure you get your calories and protein in.

Joe is also in the predicament of trying to gain weight while being required to walk quite a bit every day just from the daily demands of New York living. As a naturally larger dude, I would relish in this fat loss opportunity, but for Joe it is directly affecting his potential to gain muscle. The solution: More Food.

You should get into the habit of snacking. Get a box of the fiber 1 protein cereal or kashi go lean with the highest protein content, put it in several small baggies and munch away. Lots of carbs fats and proteins. It's easier and cheaper than buying chicken breast, and probably fits your needs more. 

Another snack that will help you get you results is an 8oz glass filled with half orange juice and half liquid egg whites. That's a big boost in your carbs and proteins in an easy to digest drink. No fat. Try it out.

Peanut Butter Sandwiches. Peanut butter has a lot of fat in it, and it's not the best thing for you. However, it is calorically dense, packed full of macro nutrients and will put weight and size on a person. And, frankly, it's not that expense for the amount of calories you are getting with a spoonful. Which brings me to my last point:

Don't be afraid to eat dirty.

 I have confidence that you can throw in some not super nutritional food into the mix on an everyday basis, and as long as it agrees with your stomach and you're not allergic to it, it will translate to more muscle. Even if you do gain a little bit of fat, that will strip off fairly easily because of your required daily cardio (walking around the city.)

3.) Train hard, lift heavy even at home.

A gym is ideal. I'm not gonna sit here and act like it's not necessary, because there is equipment at the gym that you can't afford nor will ever be able to afford. However, desperation breeds ingenuity, and I have personally done lots of home workouts with just my Pull Up Bar, my dumbbells and even incorporated random cardio crap off of the internet. I also wrote this Beginner Strength Workout sometime in January, too that might be helpful.

Things to purchase when you have money in order of necessity:
1.) A pull up bar: 30-40$
2.) Adjustable dumbbell set: 30-40$

The dumbbells will help you whenever you stagnate. However, just do body weight and pullups for now.

Pull ups:

Invest in a pull up bar. There is no better way to build up your back muscles than a wide grip pull up and you can develop some incredible biceps with chin ups alone.

Dips: take two chairs and put their backs facing each other. Stand in between them and dip your body. Like so...

Yeah, sometimes I do dips in jeans.

Push ups:
There are a million different ways to do push ups, you should do them all and become incredible at them.

Weighted Crunches:
If you want abs that pop off of your body and are visible, you need to be doing exercises that build up the size of the muscle. Doing 1,000 body weight crunches will help you burn calories but won't do a great deal for building the size of the muscle. Take a weight, or something heavy, hold it behind your head and do a crunch with your feet tucked underneath a couch.

It's like 1am in this photo.

4.) Volume and Frequency will become your best friends.

The one thing that is going to be difficult to do without a gym is applying progressive overload. You can wear a back pack while doing your push-ups and pull ups and throw in a book or two, but eventually you'll get tired of that or run out of books. So, what you're going to have to do is make up for lack of weight with increased volume and frequency. Anytime you have an extra few minutes, drop to the floor and do as many push ups as you can physically muster. There is a hanging bar that can support your weight, grab onto it and pull yourself up. Do wall sits when you're waiting for the subway. You may feel like a dumbass in the moment, and frankly you will look like one too. However, nobody cares what stupid shit you have to do to get your physique, they just wanna look at it.

Working out doesn't have to be organized, but it definitely helps keeping track of your lifts. I reccomend that you do extra random push-ups, pull ups and crunches on top of a regular workout. The added wear and tear will just contribute to your goals. 

Typical Full Body workout
Do this 4 times a week.

Wide Grip Pull ups 
with a phone book in a back pack

Push ups (Your Choice of Which One)
with a phone book in a back pack
4x12 (Or 4 sets to failure if you cannot complete 12)

Chin ups
Body Weight
3x12 (Or three sets to failure if you cannot complete 12)

Body Weight

As Long as you can physically hold it.

with a book behind your head.
4x12 (Or till failure)

Once you have dumbbells Add the following:

Bicep Curls:

Dumbbell Skull Crushers

Take as much time as you need in between sets of the Pull Ups, but try to only rest between 30-60 seconds on everything else.

Things to remember:
Always strive for progressive overload and to build your strength. You do this by increasing the weight, increasing the amount of reps on a weight, or moving the same weight at a faster speed. This is how you build muscle.

Well, Joe, I hope this has been helpful.

Things to remember:
1.) You have to eat above your calorie maintenance to build muscle. Basically, you gotta eat to grow. Eat till you're more than than full for every meal.

2.) Don't do P90x to build muscle, throw it in every once in a while to help out your cardio health and burn some additional fat, but focus on lifting your body with extra weight attached to it with Pull Ups, Push-Ups, Dips, Squats and Ab crunches. Try to add weight, a rep or speed to each lift every workout.

3.) Try to eat a 90% clean diet, but feel free to indulge in random junk food on top of basic nutrition.

4.) Throw in random push ups and pull ups throughout the day!

Hope all is well! See you on the other side of the tracks. 

Wendler week 1 cycle 4/Push bench

I don't think that my body even wants 8 hours of sleep anymore. I'm wide awake after 7, beating my alarm. Had myself some damn good food yesterday and woke up a lb heavier: 203.7. This is going to work well for today's workout. I love bench day.

I got my superman shirt on today, lots of carbs in my system and I'm ready to lift.

Warm up: 15 min on elliptical

Bench press

I got 7 on the last set. Which was what I was aiming for. It felt great.
DC 5-3-3

A bit of a grinder on the first DC and I was pushin hard for a 3rd rep on the final DC. Great set. Progress.

Overhead press

I got my final 6. Felt good. Thought about going for a 7 but thought better.
DC 5-3-3
1st DC was struggle bus on the 5th rep. That last rep of DC was straight up Superman.

Incline Dumbbell

Jumping up 10lbs every week is hard y'all. It's one of the limitations of using dumbbells. The other downside is it's difficulty getting it above your face when the weight is heavy. That being said, I got the 5x5s. Felt hard, but I got them. I'm debating about what to do next. I'm not sure if I'll be able to complete a full 5x5 with 80's...but I'm going to try. Why not?


These felt heavy from the start. First set heavy is never good. 2nd set felt better. 3rd set hard. 4th set better. 5th set was solid. I'm going to be doing 5x6 with just 45lbs next time, slowly moving that up until I hit it again with this weight. Maybe take less rest time.

Skull crushers

Felt Great, moving onto 5x10.

Extra shit:

Weighted ab crunches

Super set 1st 3 sets

Captains chair leg raise

Pull ups
Body weight pause reps for 11

135 for 13 reps

What a damn good workout that yielded some amazing results and some great PRs. I'm immensely pleased. Also: Pumptober fest.

15 min on the stair master

Tonight is opening night of Elmer Gantry at Tulsa Opera. If you're in the area, be sure to check it out and say cheer for the giant Chrisopher Reeves looking fellow during the bows.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Pull Day with the 5's

Didn't have very much sleep last night. Got back late from Tulsa, wasn't tired, so I decided to start watching Somewhere in Time starring my doppelganger Christopher Reeves until I fell asleep. I became too invested in the story and had to shut it off before it was finished. I will finish it tonight! Good movie so far.

Woke up a little under 203 (202.7 to be exact) which is really low for me at 6:30am. This makes sense though since I've been purposefully under eating to maintain energy during my rehearsals...this probably doesn't make sense to you, but I'll explain in a later post about this.

Nice Hair Cut, bro.

It's another freezing morning. I don't plan on setting any crazy PR's today, but I'm looking forward to the work. Time to train.

Warm up: 15 min of elliptical

Pull Ups
Body weight + 45lbs

These were tough. I need to drop the weight and do 5x8 with a 25lb. It shall be better follow through future Yeargain.

Bent over rows

Long ass legs...

These felt great. 

Rack Pulls

Easy money. 

Face pulls

These felt incredibly easy. Such energy!

Bicep Curls

Damn, my wrists are all out of whack, gotta fix that.

Near the last sets, things were starting to get hard. Taking more of a pause at the bottom. Damn good pump, though.

Extra Shit:

Pause Bench Press
1 set 185lbs for 5
1 drop set 135lbs for 8

1 set of Squats
135 x 12

Captains chair leg raise

I have no idea why I look so focused!

15 min of StairMaster

This was an exquisite workout. I got everything finished before my shift at 9am. Including the extra shit and my StairMaster torture. Perhaps sleep is overrated. I hope that my training continues to progress as such, and I think it will as long as I'm thoughtful about my programming and make sure I stay well.

No Tulsa tonight, thank the lord. I'm exhausted. I'm going to eat a small feast, and then hopefully put myself into a little bit of a coma and rest up for another awesome chest workout in the morning and performance at night. Peace!

The art of checking your self out.

I've always been a Showboat. Before it was my body, it was my voice. And I still am. I'm that baritone that will either option up or option down at the end of every song to sing the notes that nobody else can sing. People often confuse my showmanship for me trying to prove to everybody else that I can do things they can't, when really it's never about them, it's about doing it for myself and my own pride. It's purely selfish.

Here's a video of me when I was nearly at my heaviest singing the entire range of my voice. This video has more views than anything else on my channel.

Despite what people might think, I don't post pictures of myself without a shirt on to try to get chicks. I'm not really the kind of guy to always be chasing after hookups. I post pictures on here because I am immensely prideful. Those pictures are representations of the hard work that I have done to both lose weight and gain muscle. It wasn't just hard work, it was dedication, passion, and discipline that got me my results. I didn't take the pills, inject myself with anything, or have any surgery. Regardless of what others may think, I earned the right for myself to admire my work. That's why those pictures will always be for ol' Yeargain.

Now, here is why I believe checking yourself out is an important part of getting into better shape. 

Seeing is believing.

If you do not have any proof something is working, it more than likely isn't. If the scale numbers aren't going down, if your clothes aren't fitting looser or you are not seeing any kind of muscular development, your program is not working for you. 

Now, more than likely after one week of a program you have not developed any kind of serious muscle or lost any kind of serious weight. At most you may have lost 10 pounds, half of which will more than likely be water weight, A fourth of it might be fat, and the rest of it God knows what. However, having your muscles feel tighter, swollen and sore will give you the impression you are doing some good work. Take pride in this. I've read so many things about how to prevent yourself from being sore after working out, but when I first started out that was the thing that I loved the most. It made me feel powerful, it made me feel strong, it made me feel like I was actually working hard enough to produce results. This is of course a false correlation. You don't have to be sore from your workouts in order to be getting results, but my ignorant ass needed confirmation via The placebo effect. Don't be afraid of the placebo effect, it's a wonderful powerful tool that will yield you better results then the majority of intellectual training. Nothing breeds results more than results. If you see something is working, you will continue to do it (as long as it's sustainable) until you've reached your goal. If I didn't see the number on the scale go down or my lifts didn't increase, I would become depressed. Staying stagnant was and probably never will be an option for me. 

You probably can't tell much of a difference between the two, but Ol' Yeargain can.

Finding Your Confidence.

Losing a significant amount of weight will do wonders for your confidence and your own body image. Particularly whenever you compare yourself now to what you used to look like. And the fascinating thing is, whenever you've accomplished a giant weight loss, you start to believe that you are capable of anything. Early on this year I was not fat by any means, but my conditioning had not yet reached what it is now. However I did not know how far I was capable of going, so I continued aggressively, but still fell in love with the way my body looked then. I was running outside without my shirt on, bouncing around with 15% body fat, with a conditioning I would not even dare let anyone see me in now. But at that point I didn't know what I was capable of. I didn't know how much more I could accomplish, and I don't know how much more I can accomplish now, but I imagine I Will continue to surprise myself.

Love Yourself and Love Your Work.

Nobody will admire your work as much as you. Or as much as you allow yourself to. They may understand at a deeper level than most because they have experienced similar journeys, but nobody will know exactly what you went through more than you. You can literally look at your bicep and think of the millions of bicep curls you did to accomplish that peak, or look at your abs and think about all the cheeseburgers you didn't eat while you were cutting. Like the artist that paints a certain smile on a woman in the corner of his painting knows what she grins about, you will understand what the striations in your shoulders represent in your life.

The Human Body as a Work of Art.

Anybody with a tattoo can explain that the human body is a blank canvas. How you present it represents who you are as a person to the world. You can shave it, clean it, cover it with hair, ink or cloth, or build up the muscles underneath the tissue to give the form more size. The detail work required for forming your ideal body matches only the pointillism of Georges Suerat. Ask any body builder what their weak points are and they will explain every single one of their flaws in detail and give you a plan how they are going to fix it with weeks if not months of training. If you're a creative person, you will admire your unique detail work. If you're a hard worker you will admire the difficulty of the journey.

So post on, you selfie obsessed fools! Believe in your journey and admire your hard work. Go to the locker room after you've worked out. Take off your shirt and flex like you're in the finals of Mr. Olympia. Be not ashamed if your coworker catches you. They will be 'mirin your work too.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wendler Cycle 2 Week 3/Squats

Man oh man, yesterday was a long one for ol' Yeargain. I'm so grateful I got to sleep in this morning. Woke up a lb and a half lighter than yesterday, settled in at 203 on the dot. Lookin good in the mirror. I'm lookin forward to the squat numbers I have to put up today. It's going to be a challenge and I'm excited about it.

Warm up: 15 min on a busted elliptical that kept on trying to reset itself. Never again, Bethany YMCA.

Back Squats:

5 on last Set
DC 3-1

The warm up sets felt great. Clean. Each one dipping me lower. The last set I blasted my goal of 3 and got 5, but one of them wasn't super clean, not to the depth I consider to be acceptable, so it was more like 4. I liked the DC, and it proved to me that the weight was hard and heavy. So be it. I got my 225 for 5. I'm getting stronger. I actually have the numbers to prove it now.

Front Squats:

This may have been a classic case of Ol' Yeargain poor programming. I'm human, y'all and frankly just dumb and informed enough to hurt myself. These were tough. I had to let out a few grunts and summon my dragon spirit with a couple of "Tseit!!!"'s! 3rd set in they started to feel manageable. 4th hard as fuck. 5th was hard, but I got it.

Straight leg dead lift

The most unflattering angle I could muster.

I have a feeling that because of my conventional deadlift experience that this lift could get rather heavy. We will see. This felt great and easy.

Glute Thrusts

Great ass exercise.

Calf Raises
8 plates + 60lbs

Superset with

Weighted Ab Crunches

No rest in between.

1 set Pause Wide Grip Pull Ups
10 reps. Swaaaag

1 set Incline Bench Press
155lbs for 5 reps drop set 135lbs for 5

Again, another ridiculously heavy work load day, but so be it. I love what I do.

I finished off with 15 min. on the arc trainer and called it a day.

More Tulsa tonight. Final dress, lots of singing and lots of driving. Wish me luck.

The Tech Week Physique

This post could not fall under a better time than now as I am currently in tech week for Elmer Gantry at Tulsa Opera. It's a fascinating part of a performers career that all can find common ground in. The launching of a production is an immense undertaking. It's also a time where I can see people grow bigger through the course of the week.

This literally makes me giggle aloud. Everytime a person is in the final stages of a show and they are required to be in costume, makeup, and perform every night for a week, people derail their lives. I've literally heard the phrase "fuck it, it's tech week" come out of so many peoples mouths.

It's the literally the biggest YOLO excuse in the performers handbook available.

This type of Fuck it-itis doesn't hinder itself to just fitness and diet, because God knows I've also skipped every class, trashed my home, and even neglected paying bills during these heinous weeks. However, since this is primarily a fitness blog, let us examine that aspect of it.

Why do we change so much during tech week?

The most basic answer is stress. Depending on how you cope with it will definitely reflect your tech week physique.

Weight Gain

Ol' Yeargain is and always has been a chronic over eater. I have to consciously control my eating to prevent weight gain (big surprise.) Tech week presents many problems for people like me.


Call times for shows during tech week can be rather early, sometimes as early as 5:30 if your wig and makeup is fairly Ellaborate. Not many people below the age of 65 eat their dinner before then, and if they do they don't eat as much as they normally would or not at all because they're not hungry yet. And if you're in school, or perhaps have a day job while you're trying to build up your performance credits or finish school, you might have an hour to eat. Cue fast food. The convenience food that has so many caloric variables and processed nutrition that you have no clue it's effect on your body. Good thing it's fuckin delicious! Oh shoot! You forget to go to the gym this morning! Well, it will be there tomorrow.

The reward system.

So, when you get finished with a performance, you've burned some calories, sweated under the lights and have adrenaline pumping through your veins. Your body is begging for sustenance! You feel good about your work that night and you're hungry, so, you swing by the Taco Bell drive through on the way home. Oh, you're broke, you've been too busy with rehearsal to work. That's okay, You'll just slam this whole box of cinnamon toast crunch when you get home.

Family Time! 

If you're in school, your parents are not only proud of your academic prowess, but on top of that you've excelled and been elected and cast as a lead in your schools production. This calls for celebration! Your folks make the drive or fly in from out of town! They've decided to make a weekend of it! Every night they're there it's time to go out to eat, or meet for lunch or breakfast. They're paying, so you're eating appetizers, entrees and desserts! Life is great, you're so happy! The same can and DOES apply to young artists and even adults when their significant other is in town to see you perform.

Cast parties

Once the show is over, you have to celebrate. You have to! You've made so many new friends, you've learned so much about yourself and your craft! It's time to pop the champagne, toast to a successful run, share in feast and folly! Look at all of the finger food! What?? Someone brought pizza AND cupcakes! How generous!

Stress eating.

This is, like, the hardest role you've ever sung/acted/performed. You don't know if it's all going to come together! What if Stacey forgets that parchment letter in act 2 and you'll have to make up recit to cover up her mistake and Peter Gelb, president Obama and Jesus are in the audience??? You better eat that bag of M&M's to even out your head.

I'm being facetious, but you see what I'm getting at. Tech week is another scape goat so that we can jump on the YOLO train, second only to holidays. I speak from experience, y'all! I often practice in YOLO (I'm a black belt in yolo) so I know the kinds of excuses we give ourselves. I don't judge! But I'm trying to allow you to be honest with yourself by shinning the light on my own flaws. When I was singing The Four Villains in Tales of Hoffmann at school (my first venture into French and definitely the longest most demanding role I've sung to date) I literally went to Taco Bueno every night and had myself a quesadilla or a muchaco, sometimes both. I'd skip class the next day, sleep in, wake up, eat a plate of bacon and skip my workout. Good times. 

The truth is that you're going to have less time, less energy and WAY more temptations and stress than you're ever normally going to have during tech weeks. 

However, you have to think of more than just the moment.

Ideally you'll be doing this for a career, right? If you're going to be successful and going from gig to gig, doing something like 10-12 3 week stays in different locations. For every production you're going to have the exact same temptations, the exact same kind of stresses. If you think it's difficult to put on 10lbs over the course of a week, you're either a naturally skinny person or naive. If you're building up patterns to control your stress and hard times with food and irresponsible eating, you're going to gain a lot of weight through the course of your career.

What do you do to prevent weight gain during these hard times?

You're going to have to do one of three things: Demonstrate self control, preemptive strike, or damage control.

Self control.

This is fairly self explanatory. It basically means monitor your eating, know your calorie and macro nutrient needs and manage as such. However, I'm going to put better stress management under this too. I know for a fact that certain things calm me down when I'm stressed and don't involve eating. I workout hard, get my endorphins going, set some form of PR, and feel satisfied. I write blog posts and keep my hands out of the cookie jar. These things help facilitate my ingrained self control that I've been practicing for months.

Preemptive strike.

I don't really reccomend this, but it's a technique you can implement if you choose. Basically, set yourself up on a diet that allows you to lose anywhere between 5-10lbs leading up to tech week. Your costume might fit a little loose at the beginning of tech week, but you'll be back at your regular weight come show time if you indulge in YOLO. My suggestion is that you weight train hard before you feast so that you're additional calories are being used to build up some muscle and not just fat, but that's just a suggestion.

Damage Control.

This basically means you through the dice and come what may you just go with the flow and if you gain weight, you gain weight. You let your stress be your guide. So, after the dust is settled and you step on the scale, you then take action to undo what you have done. You got your week of fun, now back to normal life.

I've tried all three of these, and they each have their flaws, but I much prefer self control over the other two. However, my self control involves flexible eating and regular training so even if I do over eat, I make that food work for me. 

My long term life suggestion is to build up enough muscle and boost your metabolism enough where you'll need excessive calories to maintain your muscle mass. Literally getting too skinny without eating that second chipotle burrito kind of metabolism. I.E. My end game. 

In Conclusion.

There is no shame. Don't be too hard on yourself if you indulge in these behaviors, you're not perfect, nor should you ever try to be. Life is hard enough without having to be on top of your fitness and diet 24 hours a day. It's okay to relax a bit and deviate from the plan. I write this post more so that people aren't surprised by the results, but acknowledge their presence and maybe find ways to curve the results or prevent them if it's that important to them.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Wendler Bench Week 3 cycle 3/Push Day

My technology life is in shambles. Busted iPhone screen, MacBook Air charger not working, and last night I thought it would be hysterical if I threw away (accidentally) my phone charger at the Tulsa PAC. Past Kasey, you are one dumb son of a bitch.

I woke up a little heavier, 204, but looking average. Another cold morning, another long ass day ahead of me. Time to buckle down and do work, son.

Bench Press:

4 on last set
DC 3-2-1

Very Pleased with the 4 reps. I wanted at least 3 and the 4th was only a little struggle city. I could have pushed myself more in the DC, but I wanted to save some for overhead press.

Overhead Press

4 on last set
DC 3-2-1

These felt great. Again, very pleased with the 4 I got. Almost got a 5th, but I stalled out and didn't want to cheat. Pushed myself for the DC's. Hopefully I have something in the tank for the incline dumbbells. 

Incline dumbbell press
Last set to failure

Started off wonderfully, felt strong and controlled, and I got 7 on the last set. My chest is gettin stronger!!!!!

Body weight + 62.5lbs

Oooooo, gettin heavy.

Skull Crushers

I'm liking the heavier weight. I'm trying a new style of skull crusher where I push from behind the head. I'm liking it so far. These were very manageable, and a little easy. I can't wait to up the intensity next session with more reps.

Chest flys

Easy Money! I'll go for 9 next time.

Weighted ab crunches
Last set till burn out.

Fuck it!

1 set of 8 pause rep wide grip pull ups

1 set of squats
10 reps

Status report indicates: Pumped

15 min on stairmaster

1st dress tech with orchestra tonight. Should be a bloodbath.

How to Look Good on Stage

This post should be called:

Aesthetic as fuck.

While I believe that all training is beneficial to creating a good aesthetic, there are certain workouts that will promote a more aesthetic stage presence.

"I don't want to look like a muscle bound freak, Ol' Yeargain!"

For you guys who are concerned about getting "too big" and don't want to put on too much size, DONT! Unless you're looking to dedicate years of your life to lifting heavy weights, hitting all of your muscles at least twice a week, keeping your nutrition on point, your protein aggressive and not slipping every 6 months, its just not going to happen. If it does, you are a genetic exception or on some great pharmaceuticals (roids). Most men will work hard for a fantastic physique and obtain a pretty good one, that is the bitch of it.

The Three big exercises that are going to put some good size on you and make you look the best on stage are:

Pulls ups, Bench, and Squats.

"That's it? I thought it's more than that? That seems awfully simple."

That's the fuckin beauty of it. It is simple, but you try doing all three of those in one workout and you will be drained! You won't have to do much else in your workout in order to stimulate your body to grow, because you're literally taxing all of your body. If I write you a program, these are going to be your compound movements. You will come to worship and love these incredible strength and muscles builders if I'm training you, because I truly believe in its capabilities in turning you into a badass looking mother fucker. I practice what I preach, and if you look at my daily workout blog entries, you'll see at least one of these in every single one. Hard work in the right areas will get you great results.

Let us delve into The Three one by one and I'll explain why these are best for performers.

Pull Ups

The key to looking big, strong, and majestic on stage is the signature body builder v Taper. This translates to both stage and Film. Its the combination of wide shoulders and a small waist.

What exercise promotes that v taper the best? Wide grip pull ups - How wide? The wider the better. Preferably weighted. Heavily weighted. Why is this? Your lats, brah! The bigger the contrast between your shoulders and waist, the more powerful one will look. A perfect example is Chris Hemsworth as Thor. Wide shoulders and a tiny waist.

Most people will not obtain that kind of difference in their v taper because of genetics, commitment to the exercise and lack of motivation to do so, but one should train as if that is their goal, because more than likely it will give you just enough V taper to make you look strong, fit, and lean.

The other thing with pull ups is that it will work the whole of your upper back, and also develop your biceps and forearm/grip strength as well. A two for one deal as I say. However, it's very difficult to do. If you're unable to do a pull up, for one, you should use this video to get better at them, but in the mean time, hammer away at the lat pull down until you're confident with your ability to do multiple pull ups.

Erwin Schrott as Don Giovanni

Bench Press

Having a droopy chest may be good if you're trying to play Falstaff or get a good laugh out of your audience, but if you want to look like a young, athletic male, or perhaps a man who holds power, you have to have a nice thick symmetrical chest. The key to obtaining a nice, full well rounded chest is the bench press.

Bench press is the bread and butter of gym activities. You ask most bros what their favorite thing to train is and they will more than likely say chest or arms. Ask them their favorite exercise: bench press. There is a reason for it. The bench press is a powerful exercise that hits the chest, the triceps, and even activates your core (abs) and back muscles. You're literally forcing your body to grow from this big compound movement. Doing this compound lift often (twice a week) is going to yield immense results in a short amount of time if you're applying progressive overload and using good technique to prevent injury.


Squats are by far the best developer of your legs and glutes (that's your ass!) If you want to have a shapely backside, and powerful warrior like stance, you need to put a bar on your shoulders and get your ass to the grass.

Other benefits that come with doing low squats is better deep breathing, a more grounded presence, and more confidence in a lower state of elevation. That means you won't freak out anytime you have to be on the ground or kneeling down, because you know you have the strength and power to launch out of those positions. This is somewhat speculative, but also has some founding in exercises I've seen performers do to get more active, grounded power stances that are more or less extensions of the basic ass to grass squat.

Psychologically the squat will also give you more physical presence. I defy anybody to talk down to a guy that can squat over 500lbs. He will understand his power and prowess better than a dude that does curls for the girls. And THAT translates to stage if you have the acting knowledge to back it up.

Other Factors

There are lots of variables that can contribute to a persons look on stage that can and can't be learned or sculpted in the gym.

Let's talk about the cans:


The difference between a muscle head and an aesthetic muscular physique is the development (or over development of the Trapezius muscles. I like traps, I'm trying to get bigger traps. But, they do promote a certain gym rat look that could potentially be very effective for villainous characters like Bane in Batman

The reason it works well for physically aggressive villains is that thick traps often accompany an impressive and formidable physique, but also big flare traps make it look like you have the hood of a cobra. There is a reason people use hoods for villains, it creates a reptilian style of presentation that dehumanizes and makes them look like the original villain: A snake. A king cobra to be specific. Or it will give you that pit bull look that's bound to intimidate anyone. 

I'll go more into this in a different post, but if you're looking to develop some big traps for that monstrous look, you need to be doing Deadlifts (ideally conventional over sumo) Rack Pulls, and some heavy ass shrugs. 

Being Lean:

It's true that looking big on film requires muscle, but more importantly, it requires a low body fat percentage. At least 8-9%. The cuts and veins will translate to size and power, even if you're not that big. Case in point: Hugh Jackman as Wolverine.

This is not an ideal look for all heroes or leading mean, because frankly it comes off as a little unattractive and there is a wild aspect to it that is undeniable. This look works perfectly for Wolverine, but might have come off as a little much for Thor. 

This lean look is perfect for movies. Just think about all the jacked dudes you see in films and think about how they look in person. Movie magic, y'all. If you're on stage, you'll more than likely come off as skinny if you're not in the right costume or wearing too many clothes, or playing opposite someone that's bigger than you. That's a directing/casting problem that can often come across as poor conditioning on your part.


I suffer from this big time. Most tall guys do. I work hard on my body, but then I walk around with the biggest ugly kid posture. Mostly from all of my years of hunching over. How you present your work is what sets a professional body builder from your average bro flexing in a mirror. This is something that can only come from self observation or having a coach stay on top of you to make sure you're maintaining it. A bro that knows how to walk with the utmost confidence and display his physique expertly is Brad Pitt. His posture, presence and charisma combined with his talent and physique have literally made him the ideal for over a decade. 



Other than having surgery, you can't change certain things to make you look better on film or stage. The symmetry of your face or body can easily keep you from getting a modeling job, but might be perfect for a certain type or character in a show and ruin your chances for others. You can develop even somewhat symmetrical muscles by doing specific work, but your bone structure is what it is...unless, you know, surgery.


You can't control the environment in which you are displayed. You could work your ass off to have chiseled abs and etched striations all over your body, but if they light you poorly, that type of imagery will fall flat and make you look flat. It really sucks. Another directing problem that you get blamed for.

The Unknown

When preparing for a role or an audition, you're operating under the assumption that you're capable of obtaining the physique you're training for, however, unless you've had that look previously, you don't know and you're putting a lot of faith in your research and training coach. Or you and your trainer will work hard for you to get a result and the director will come in and say after months of work, we're gonna need you to change it.

Example: Hemsworth got so big for Thor that he could not fit into his costume without experiencing numbness in his hands because circulation was being cut off. The director said "lean out a bit" and Chris had to back track his training a bit to reach their ideal physique.

More than anything your talent is going to ring true on film and stage. If you don't have the performing skills, you're literally just going to look like a beautiful piece of furniture. However, just because you believe you are talented and others have confirmed this doesn't mean you won't be looked over because of your body. We live in a dog eat dog world and (literally) only the fit will, get cast? Again, not always true, but do yourself a favor and invest in yourself and your image and you will benefit from its returns.

If you're interested in a fitness program based around your schedule, available equipment and goals, send me a message on the Facebook page or comment below and I'll cook something up for you.

Monday, February 24, 2014

First Full Body Day

I'm taking bold new steps, ladies and gents. And I'm doing it on the first day of tech! Gasp!!!! (I'll talk more about that in an upcoming blog post.) I've decided that I can't do PR attempts after doing a low carb day. It's not safe and it will yield disappointing results. Also, I'm becoming more and more enthralled with more training frequency, particularly in bench, Squat and Weighted Pull Ups. So, I've decided that the first workout I will do when coming out of a low carb day will be a full body workout in 5x5 style. I will now be hitting all of my muscles 3 times a week. I'm so damn stoked. Here we go:

Woke up extra early this morning. I just got the urge and feel that I needed to be awake. Tried not to putz around too much and get to the gym. Fuckin cold again. Good, that means the gym will be mine.

Incline Bench Press:

These felt good. Only needed 1 assist rep. 1st 3 sets were pause reps.Way easier to accomplish when I'm not setting a PR right before it. Now THAT'S Good Programming, Ol' Yeargain.

Back Squats

Holy Back Squat, Batman!

I'm really starting to believe in increasing the frequency of squats. 3 times a week. My form is getting cleaner and the weight is getting easier. The recipe to success. I was able to do these fairly cleanly where a month ago I would have been pissing and moaning the whole time.

Weighted Pull ups
Body weight + 35lbs

Pull ups...Bat-ups

These were hard, but fairly clean. I really only had to kip a bit on the last rep to get my chin above the bar.

Bicep Curls

I don't know what it was, but these were a bit tough. My energy was a bit sapped from the big Three, but I got all my reps and they were clean. No swinging.

Skull Crushers

Clean, easy. Next time I hit this it will be 80lbs for 5x8

Face pulls

This gives you an idea about how grossly long my legs are.

These actually felt a little too easy. However, there is room to grow with this weight. And grow I shall.

Cable Crunches

Super set with

Captains Chair knee raise
Body weight

Quite the fuckin work load. I was working out for an hour and a half. However, the result was Mount Opumpis! (Mount Olympis anyone?)

After my shift I did 15 min on the Stair Master.

Today is a long one for Ol' Yeargain. I was up by 6:30am and I'm sure I won't be back into bed until I get home around midnight tonight from the piano dress in Tulsa for Elmer Gantry.